Wham Bam Trans, Pawtucket, RI (exhibition)

Gemini (conjoined at genitals), ©2004 Marsian De Lellis
Gemini (conjoined at genitals), ©2004 Marsian De Lellis

On April 17th, 2004, I exhibited my sculpture Gemini (conjoined at genitals) as part of the WhamBamTrans Arts Festival. Curated by Luke Woodward and Corinne Teed, the exhibition and arts festival took place at a warehouse in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and included visual art, film and performances made by trans and gender queer creators.  WhamBamTranswas sponsored by the Creative Arts Council at Brown Univeristy, the school’s Queer Alliance, and the Equity Action Fund.

From InNewsweekly, “RI plays host to its first celebration of transgender artists – The Wham Bam Arts Festival takes over a Pawtucket warehouse for one day last weekend”:

PAWTUCKET, RI – The WhamBamTrans Arts Fest, a daylong extravaganza of transexual and transgender artists and their work, was held Saturday April 17th, in a two-story brick warehouse off Mineral Spring Avenue.

About 60 people attended the festival, which was the first of its kind to be held in Rhode Island. Other similar festivals have been held in various parts of the country, including San Francisco

Luke Woodward, a student at Brown University who identifies as a female-to-male transgender, organized the festival as a way to bring the transgender community together.

Woodward told in newsweekly that the festival was about “connecting the artist community with the transgender community” and the “gay and lesbian community with the transgender community.”

The event featured a series of films made by Morty Diamond, Elyse Montague (Through the Skin), Paper Tiger/Fierce (Fenced Out), Kerioakie (Phineas Slipped), Joelle Ryan (Tranzamazon), and Tara Mateik (Operation Invert). Mateik’s film compares the different regulations mediating botox-related plastic surger and gender reassignment sex changes.

Diamond’s film, Trannyfags, is described on his website as portraying “the wild sexual encounters of four gay transmen with both bio-men and each other in hot one-on-one scenes and group orgies.”

Artwork on display ranged from photography and paintings to sculpture and other creations.

Kyl Caragol, a 21-year old from Boston, was among the artists who came to enjoy the work of members of the transgender community.

“It’s cool to see these events popping up all over the country,” Caragol said, adding that art was his “favorite thing to do.”

Other artists whose work was displayed included Sam Lopes, James Tsang, The Marsian, Jay Melena, Morris, Paige Cruza, Matthew Tsuyoshi Nishii, Tuesday, Drake Hagner, and Alex Solange.

“I knew it would be an eclectic mix of music and art,” said Robbie, an attendee from Boston whose friends were amoung the artists and did not give his last name.

Eight of the participants performed readings of their poetry and prose, including ANdrew Schiffer, Angelo Hannah, Carolyn Connely, Taryn Levitt, Marcus Rene Van, Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, Rahne Alexander, and Tennessee Jones.

Connelly, 35, described herself as an “Irish-Italian Slayer-listening femme dyke.”

Connelly is the author of A Brooklyn Diary, a 48-page journal filled with poetry about her childhood in New York and coming out as a transsexual in a working-class family.

Connely explained her presence at the festival as a way of “supporting other people” and “building community”.

Levitt described herself as a “26-year-old white, pansexual, Jewish, trans, genderqueer activist.” Levitt serves as an organizer for a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jewish organization in Boston and leads  workshops and trainings on queer activism, dismantling oppressions, youth empowerment and leadership, transgender/genderqueer identities and transfeminism.

Music was performed by Jaycub Perez, Geo Wyeth, Katastrophe, and The Mean Corner.

Drag performers included Aliza Shapiro, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate who works as a “genderqueer” performer and designer. Shapiro has spent four years as Drag King Heywood Wakefield.

Also performing were Talia Kingsbury a.k.a. Mani, D’hana D’King Perry a.k.a. Cephus Leroy, and Ben McCoy a.k.a. Mr. Lady.

The festival was sponsored by the Creative Arts Council at Brown Univeristy, the school’s Queer Alliance, and the Equity Action Fund.